advice to the frustrated home cook

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I’ve read some of your blogs, and I think this is what you want:

something delicious
something fast
affordable
makes a lot (depending on how many you’re feeding)

I will go ahead and say that you will be let down at cooking shows who tell you that you can cook something brilliant in 30 minutes. And you can, don’t get me wrong, but those people cooking on TV are professionals, and have done it for a long, long time.

Hear me out!

I’m not here to sound discouraging. I love to see folks cooking at home. There’s something so important about cooking a meal in your home. The smells, making people hungry, gathering folks together. It is what is most important in a lot of our days.

But what I see, is aggravation.
I read people’s frustrations with not having enough time, or you’ll head straight to the freezer section. (Which honestly, you do what you gotta do. I’m not judging you on your eating and cooking habits. I just know, you can do it.)

Yes, you can do it.

I know you worked a long day.

You already made the mistake of coming in to sit down.

You’re watching that show that you love.

Then your stomach starts to growl.

Don’t panic. You still have time to make good choices.

Just because Sandra Lee is doing something “interesting” with canned cheese, doesn’t mean you have to. This is where the home cook learns to grow.

And you know what? You’ll get faster, and faster at prepping meals. That’s what TV shows don’t show you. They have all their stuff ready to go. Oh, four cloves of minced garlic? Watching folks with even decent knife skills, mincing a clove of garlic takes some sweet time. Don’t do that to yourself. Or if you do, leave time for it. Leave time for your prep. Leave time to get things right.

So often, we rush to put things in our belly, and are discouraged at the final product. But then, you’ll start to nail stuff better and better. You’ll have your go-to chicken dish and will think the night before about marinating a pork shoulder, soaking beans, or baking fresh bread.

Cooking at home takes time. There’s no way around that. If it’s not important for you to dedicate time your craft, you will always feel frustrated at the outcome.

Now, I am not speaking to the mom or dad with kids. I can’t say that I have experience with little ones and different eating schedules. And that’s even if your kid wants to eat what your eating or if that’s even an option. Whatever, I’m not getting into that, but what I have seen, and what I like to see, is kids interacting with their food.

Isn’t that the whole point? To connect with the ones you are feeding?

If I’m missing the point, excuse my ignorance. I realize it is different.

I also fall victim to a frozen pizza from time to time. And after I’m done hating myself (just kidding), I’ll know deep down, I won’t be able to do that for a long time. At least I hope I don’t.

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I’ve talked about this before. (In fact, almost exactly three years ago. Damn, I’ve come a long way.)
It helps to keep some things around. The things that they always have on TV shows and in magazine articles. Meal prep.

Have your stuff organized. Your onions chopped. Your liquids ready to be measured. Eggs and butter at room temp if they need to be. Water hot. Oven pre-heated. Yes, kitchens are hot places. But you know the saying.

Don’t kill yourself. Keep it simple. Use that boneless, skinless chicken breast that you love to buy. But please, cook it in a lot of butter or olive oil or something. Load that hot pan up with thyme and garlic and lemon juice. Just throw it all in a pan, tilt the pan, let the juices form at the bottom and baste that super-mom cut of meat. Delicious!

And now, you are a kitchen stud. Roast some vegetables while you’re doing it.

There are many uh, “wonderful”, uh, “things” you can do while your food is cooking.

Just uh, don’t forget to set a timer. 🙂

Multitask. Yeah, that’s what I mean.

– – – – –

I guess that’s my advice to home cooks struggling with time. Buy good ingredients and cook them simply. Save dramatic dishes for the weekend. Good rice with good vegetables is a GOOD thing. And it’s cheap and easy.

Maybe I’m just beating a dead horse now.

Fair enough.